THE BURIAL OF JESUS PROVIDES THE ESSENTIAL LINK BETWEEN THE REALITY OF HIS DEATH AND THE VALIDITY OF HIS RESURRECTION
Why spend any time at all on the discussion of the burial of Jesus Christ? For one reason it attests to the reality of his physical death. For another it is part of Messianic prophecy. But probably the main reason is that the details of the burial present the backdrop for the historic occasion of His Resurrection from the dead.
Brian Evans: I have heard liberal unbelievers try to say things like; Jesus was unconscious or had a heat stroke and then once He was placed in the cool tomb was revived.
If you’re going to deny the resurrection, come up with something better than that.
All the apostles thought it necessary to report the fact that Jesus was dead and He was buried. His burial is proof that He was actually dead.
Throughout this account we see the sovereign God in charge of all the details and making sure that all of the Messianic prophecies are literally fulfilled.
I. (:50-51) IDENTITY OF JOSEPH –
RIGHTEOUS DISCIPLE WHO HAD BEEN CONCEALING HIS LOYALTY TO JESUS
A. His Name
“And behold, a man named Joseph,”
He pops up out of nowhere and now plays a very prominent role in the gospel accounts.
B. His Status = Member of the Sanhedrin
“who was a member of the Council,”
C. His Reputation
“a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action),”
He must have been absent when the unanimous vote was taken
Apostle John calls him a secret disciple (John 19:38). Here he is emboldened to come out of the closet and take the personal risks to fully identify with Jesus.
Ralph Wilson: Often, secret believers burrow deeper in a time of crisis, but sometimes they rise to the occasion to do what is required. John’s Gospel notes that Joseph was assisted by Nicodemus (John 19:39-40), a fellow member of the Sanhedrin who had previously come to Jesus by night (John 3:1-8). He, too, is ready to declare his allegiance to Jesus.
Brian Evans: However, up until now no one knew he was a follower. To be a follower meant he would give up his prominent role as a member of the counsel. He would lose his prestigious position. He would not be look upon with reverence and awe. He would not be able to get a job or support his family any longer. It was God’s time and His secret follower would now come out of the shadows and affirm his love for Christ.
D. His Ethnicity
“a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews,”
Donald Miller: usually identified with Ramah, the birthplace of Samuel
E. His Devotion
“who was waiting for the kingdom of God;”
Cf. Simeon (2:25), Anna (2:38)
Bruce Hurt: Waiting (prosdechomai from pros = in compound Greek words implies motion or direction toward + dechomai = a deliberate and ready reception) means to accept favorably, to receive one into intercourse/companionship, to give access to oneself or receive to oneself. This great Greek verb describes one who is waiting for something (in most contexts actually Someone) with a sense of expectancy (“like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast” = Lk 12:36, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” = Titus 2:13+, “waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” = Jude 1:21+). Does this verb typify your life beloved? If not what “earthly cargo” do you need to jettison in order to assure a safe voyage and an “abundant” arrival at port (see 2Pe 1:10, 11, He 6:19, 20)?
II. (:52-53) INTERNMENT OF JESUS –
REALITY OF THE DEATH OF JESUS
A. (:52) Request for the Body
“this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.”
Donald Miller: His influence with Pilate and his possession of a “rock-hewn tomb” suggest that he was a man of wealth.
Geldenhuys: And thus the prophecy was fulfilled which declared that although a grave was allocated to Him along with malefactors (because the death-sentence of a felon was carried out o Him), yet He was with the rich man in His death (Isa.liii. 9). Never again will He be the object of human mockery, humiliation and violence.
Lenski: This man, who has thus far been fearful and cowardly, does an astonishing thing. He casts his fears to the winds and boldly takes charge now that the great need has arisen. He must have stood among the spectators for a long while. Then, after his resolve had been made, he most likely first spoke to the centurion about going to Pilate and asked him to wait with the disposal of the body of Jesus.
B. (:53) Recap of the Burial
“And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain.”
This was a tomb that Joseph had planned to use for himself (Mat. 27:60) … so we have here a case of substitutionary burial
Lenski: Joseph bought only the linen and no spices. . . Nicodemus bought only the spices and no linen. We are compelled to conclude that these two men, both of whom were Sanhedrists, met early enough somewhere, somehow to confer with each other, to join in this task and thus to divide their purchases. Nicodemus bought a hundred pounds of spices, a lavish amount; he must have engaged a couple of carriers to bring the load, being too old to manage it himself. . .
A tomb “where no one ever yet had been laid,” new and sweet, where no decay or odor of death had as yet entered, was a fitting place for the body of Jesus which no corruption or decomposition dared ever to touch (Acts 2:27). Here his holy body would have peaceful rest, all its dreadful, painful work being done. Yet Jesus was not intended for a tomb.
Green: Tomb fashioned by quarrying into the side of a rock face. Such a tomb might have included a forecourt before a cave, the mouth of which could be covered by a large, disk-shaped stone set in a groove cut in the rock beneath. The entrance would lead into the burial chamber with a stone step and central pit of sufficient height to allow persons to stand in order to prepare a corpse for internment on one of the stone benches carved into the rock along the sides of the chamber…. The body was placed on a sand-covered stone bench; after a twelve-month period of decomposition, the bones were collected and placed in an ossuary.
III. (:54-56) PREPARATIONS FOR EMBALMING THE BODY –
RESPECT AND LOVE FOR JESUS
A. (:54) Day Defined – Complicating the Logistics
1. Preparation day for the Passover
“And it was the preparation day,”
2. Day Preceding the Sabbath
“and the Sabbath was about to begin.”
B. (:55) Details of the Burial Scoped Out
“Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed after, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid.”
Constable: on Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses – The writer mentioned the presence of these two women at the tomb during Jesus’ burial to prepare for his statement that they were present to witness the empty tomb (Mk 16:1, 5). They had seen Jesus die (Mk 15:40), and now they saw Him buried. There was no question that they went to the right tomb on Sunday morning since they had been there Friday afternoon. Again Mark guarded against any wrong conclusion that the disciples were mistaken about Jesus’ resurrection. The Servant of the Lord had paid the ultimate price for the sins of humankind, His own life. Mark’s narrative stressed Jesus’ exemplary service and the reality of His death.
C. (:56a) Development of Spices and Perfumes
“And they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.”
Geldenhuys: It was their intention later on, as a proof of their tender love for Him, to go and embalm His body further with spices and ointment. For this reason they quickly went to the city, and during the short period before the Sabbath dawned commenced to prepare the spices and ointment. They did not, however, have a sufficient supply, and after they had rested on the Sabbath, the last of the Old Dispensation (which passed finally with Jesus’ resurrection), they went to buy and prepare what was still wanting at the commencement of the first day of the week (i.e. the evening of the following day, Mark xvi. 1), in order to take it with them to His tomb on the following morning.
D. (:56b) Delay Due to the Sabbath
“And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”